Malamulele boos Zuma despite promises

2014-04-16 18:25

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President Jacob Zuma left behind agitated residents of Malamulele, who booed and threw their hands in the air when the ANC leader said their grievances would be attended to.

Some were seen leaving the grand stand at the packed Malamulele Stadium where Zuma was addressing them this afternoon.

Yelling and signalling for officials to go away, residents surged out of the stadium and a few cars were pelted with stones on a nearby road as Malamulele was briefly plunged into chaos.

A large group of those who had attended the ANC gathering was seen heading towards the shops, which were heavily guarded by the police. Shops were previously torched and looted in last year’s violent protests.

Parts of the streets were barricaded and the smoke of burning tyres could be seen from a distance after Zuma had left, but police swiftly moved in to calm the situation down.

Residents said they had been asking for their own municipality for over a decade. They believe service delivery will improve if Malamulele gets its own municipality instead of falling under the Thulamela municipality, which is based in Thohoyandou about 35km away.

A few thousand had been filling the stadium since midday, waiting eagerly for Zuma to address them. The situation was tense even before Zuma had arrived and the majority of shops were closed for business.

One artist asked the crowd if they were going to vote and they booed him off the stage. Another artist was also booed when he chanted, “ANC will win!’.

When he finally spoke after those gathered were urged to afford the president an opportunity to address them, Zuma took to the stage and wasted no time in promising a solution to Malamulele’s municipality issue.

“I had an opportunity to meet with different sectors [that] presented the case of Malamulele, which argues for its own municipality. I listened very carefully to the presentations by the religious group, business group, traditional representatives and representatives of the task team who all presented one case and gave the history of this matter that it started a long time ago,” Zuma said.

“The people of Malamulele have made a detailed research and indeed they are convinced that all facts put together make Malamulele to qualify to be a municipality. The [ANC] task team has now completed a draft report, which is being sent to government to conclude and look at the matter.”

Zuma said the Malamulele matter had never been presented to his office and that he held a different view before coming to the area and listening to their presentations.

“This matter has never presented to the president of the country. I will find out why the matter was delayed so much because it is my view that if the facts are presented, why can’t we conclude the matter?” he said.

“It is important that we conclude the matter within a reasonable time. Since the matter is been presented to the president I am now going to take an interest to look at the matter firstly on the facts and the time it must take before it can be concluded. I don’t believe we cannot resolve this matter.”

Despite these promises, members of the community threw their hands in the air as Zuma spoke.

“Let us deal with the matter as comrades dealing with our government. Nobody must put obstacles to this matter. It must be resolved so that we are in a position to move forward,” Zuma said.

Probably realising that the people had expected more than just a promise, Zuma then told them that processes were to be followed.

“The matter is now in the hands where it is supposed to be so that it can be concluded. That is what we can say. We can’t say more than that,” he said.

“I don’t want to tell a lie. I can’t on my own come here and take a decision. I am not a dictator; only dictators do so,” he said.

“The matter is going to be considered properly within the law and the Constitution. The Constitution agrees that if an area satisfies all the conditions a decision must be taken. Indeed I am going to come back on this matter when it is resolved. There is no other way we can deal with it.”

By the time he finished talking, people had already started moving out of the stadium. Some said they were not going to vote on May 7.

The Malamulele community previously threatened not to vote in the coming elections unless they are given their own municipality.

The situation was still tense in the area this evening.

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